On "know it all's" & integrity. How it changed the world.

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Non Thai Article

On "know it all's" and integrity.  A short recount of historyHow America got its name and why/how Spain start losing its power 500 years ago.

Most of us know the history that when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 (as official history claims, I know many credible accounts say it was China before) he was convinced he found India or Indonesia, by sailing from the other way.  Despite some questioning this,  he firmly and stubbornly believed this to the day he died.  Never realizing/recognizing/believing that in fact he may have discovered a new continent!  Some told him this may be a new land, but he believed none of it.  Only some 15 years later in 1507 did Ameriga Vespucci (who some wrongly thought to have discover it) because he claimed with conviction that “we in fact did not know”.  “There is a poetic justice in the fact that a quarter of the world and two of its seven continents are named after a little known Italian Ameriga Vespucci., whose sole claim to fame is that he had the courage to say “We don’t know”. “   This from the great book “A brief History of Mankind", by Yval Noah Harari page 321.  2014.

This superb book explains at some length that one of the key reasons why Europeans excelled from a near nothing in year 1400-1500 to a world-power barely 5oo hundred years later is because they were curious, knew that “they in fact did not know” and were increasingly eager to explore the unknown for new knowledge besides curiosity not least, by admitting how (again) they did not know. Vs. at the time the rest of humanity which was satisfied with the status quo and for the most part not interested in questioning.   So much for the many opinionated know it all.  In German language called "Rechthaberisch".

As the ships from Spain started to navigate the new world many bringing back new found riches, fresh risk capital was direly needed to finance such dangerous and long sailing ventures.  Rich people of all kinds were sought to finance these with the hope of hitting it big, and which some did.  However the King of Spain that time, sitting high on his horse, reneged often in paying back borrowed money invested for such ventures.  The courts of Spain were of no help in those days as they sided with the powerful King; often makinig excuses or not, but not paying back.  Or worse, used the new claimed richness along with the borrowed capital ill-obtained for luxury of to fight crazy wars in the far away lands.  Defaulting and not  paying back the well intentioned trusting investors…which then could do nothing.   Nothing that is, except no longer provide new capital from then on.  “Once burned, twice shy”. 

Yet, in Amsterdam Holland, just the opposite transpired, very good books were kept in those days and investors were paid back, almost religiously so.  Guess where in time all the new risk capital flowed.  Amsterdam became the new global shipping and world power and more and the rest is history, vs. Spain which all but lost its global dominance.

The moral of the above historical recount is that when we know we don’t know, we can at times and over time excel.  When we operate with integrity and honesty and in the correct way in time, even a new world power can so emerge, taking it away from the old.

Best Regards,

Paul A Renaud.